In Downtown Fullerton, the hustle and bustle of thriving small businesses can be heard on every corner. One local artist has made it her mission to serve these well loved small businesses with all the passion she can muster.
Virginia Sandfer is a unique artist/marketing director with her own company, Third & Brand. Her varied experience and past education have helped her create a business where she can help others clarify their brands and make them beautiful.
When Sandfer meets with clients, she goes over the vision they have for their company and looks at whether that aligns with the messages they are sending with their logos, marketing graphics and advertising. Usually it does not, and that’s why they come to her.
“Especially with the social media age, a lot of businesses can put things out there, pictures of their cats up, and not really think about the fact that the picture is representing their business,” said Sandfer.
She is focused on creating a cohesive brand for each client, which means she has a hand in most aspects of the visuals for the company.
“One of my first clients, I now do her business cards. I’ve done ads for her, pamphlets for her, and I do her chalk art,” said Sandfer. “I touch kind of everything. And then it ends up being a nice, consistent, creative message all the way across the board.”
She has been working with existing brands and polishing them. She helps those businesses who want to change from being a start-up to the next level, a professional business.
The type of client she works for is pretty consistent.
“I have a handful of businesses that I do work for. Most of them are all small, women-owned businesses. That’s kind of my niche, creative women that are in business. I hit it off with them,” said Sandfer.
Sandfer is a creative woman herself, which may be why she gets along so well with her clients. A stay-at-home mom with an Etsy studio called The Head Stand, she found that her work sold online became more of a calling. She loves to do illustrative work and chalk board designs.
Sandfer’s chalk art has become a big part of the business she does for her clients. It started as an odd job she did for restaurants that she knew, mostly as a favor for old bosses, but it became something more.
“The chalk art is a big part of branding for a lot of shops. Even if I don’t do [other] branding for them,” said Sandfer.
Her work with chalk board art has become renowned throughout California. She has been called upon to create chalk boards for event planners from Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and even San Francisco.
Sandfer has also worked for companies such as the Orange County Great Park, Karma Tequila, Savers Thrift Store in Yorba Linda and True Seasons Kitchen in Anaheim.
One of the very first tasks she had from OC Great Park was with 45 handmade chalkboards from Orange, which the company shipped to her home. She had to hire extra people to help her finish the project on time for a ground-breaking ceremony at the park.
Sandfer also does chalk art for local restaurants and retail shops. Her work for restaurants must be done after closing, and she spends hours at a time to finish the project in one night.
Though the art is mostly done with chalk, many clients never remove it.
“Most of the stuff I do, people never erase, so it’s almost like the art that I do is illustrations I’m painting or drawing. I consider it hand-lettering and illustrations,” said Sandfer.
Sandfer’s work with illustrations is a deep-rooted passion, which sometimes helps her calm herself through all her busy work projects. At times she needs to step away from her work and just draw and do something creative.
“Really, a true joy to me is to get artists together and put on an event,” said Sandfer.
For example, she has done events such as the one she was a part of at the Hibbleton Art Gallery in Fullerton. It was a show curated with zine artists for the Scribbles and Scrawls event at the Hibbleton Art Gallery in Fullerton. The whole show was based around writing and poetry. Sandfer created portraits of writers such as John Steinbeck.
Sandfer’s local connections have been very fruitful for her. In addition to working with the Hibbleton, Sandfer also does work with the Fullerton Museum Center, teaching classes in chalk art and screen printing.
Fullerton was also where she first got her start as a graphic design artist while working for Kneadle Design Studios. She has credited the company’s owners for being great mentors. She was their first employee and lead graphic designer for two years before leaving the company when she got married and had her son.
Everything from her background in multiple disciplines to her connections with local companies helped her grow a business.
Sandfer’s training in advertising comes from her degree from California State University of Fullerton, but her graphic design background comes from Fullerton College.
While working on her advertising degree at CSUF, she decided that she really liked the graphic design part of advertising, so she enrolled in courses with Richard McMillan from the Fullerton College Art Department.
“Part of the reason I wanted to be a graphic designer was because of him. I learned a lot. He was very smart and hands on. That class meant more to me than all the time I spent there [at CSUF],” said Sandfer.
After graduating from CSUF and leaving classes at Fullerton College, Sandfer went on to polish her skills at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.
“I tell designers, ‘You do not have to go to a four-year college. You can go to Fullerton College, you can go to OCC, just get the training. And if you still think you want to be a graphic designer and hang through that, maybe go to a specialty school,'” said Sandfer.
Sandfer’s experience helps her communicate with her clients in all aspects of their business’ identity.
“It was all very backwards, but now I really benefit from it,” she said.
She can be what an entire advertising or marketing department would be in a large company for a small local business.
“A lot of people don’t do it, but for me it’s easy. It’s hard to find someone who does so much because it’s very artistic and it’s hard to find a blend of someone that’s organized, professional and artistic,” said Sandfer.